Although the league was still called the VFL until the start of the 1990 season, the 2011 season was the unofficial 25th AFL season as the league expanded from 12 clubs to 14 clubs in 1987.
The new clubs were West Coast Eagles and Brisbane Bears. In 1991 Adelaide Crows joined followed by Fremantle Dockers in 1995.
1997 was the start of a new era of the AFL. Port Adelaide Power joined. Footscray changed its name to Western Bulldogs. Brisbane Bears and Fitzroy Lions merged to become Brisbane Lions.
This season Gold Coast Suns joined the AFL to bring the number of clubs to 17.
- Chris Scott, twin brother of North Melbourne coach Brad Scott, replaced Mark Thompson as coach at Geelong.
- John Longmire replaced Paul Roos as coach at Sydney Swans.
- Essendon appointed one of their favorite players, James Hird as their coach.
West Coast Eagles had the biggest improvement for the season, climbing 12 places to 4th. West Coast Eagles went from wooden spoon to Preliminary Finals. Whilst Port Adelaide and Western Bulldogs had the biggest decline, falling 6 places.
Geelong finishing second on the ladder won its third premiership in 5 years. Collingwood last season were the minor premiers and won the premiership. In 2011 Collingwood were minor premiers again and played Geelong in the Grand Final. Whilst Gold Coast Suns in its inaugural season, won the wooden spoon.
Lance Franklin of Hawthorn won the Coleman Medal for the leading goalscorer. Dane Swan of Collingwood won the Brownlow Medal.
|4||West Coast Eagles||Semi Final|
|West Coast Eagles|
|Elimination Final||Carlton||Preliminary Final|
|Elimination Final||Preliminary Final||Geelong|
|6||St Kilda||West Coast Eagles|
|7||Sydney Swans||Semi Final||Geelong|